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The Worst Merry Go Round

Well, here we go. We have found the worst policy to come out of higher ed during a pandemic. (Although, this working mom points out it would have also been awful during The Before.) Behold: Florida State University bans parenting during remote working. Now, before I tear this apart: I’ve seen a couple of different explanations of how this unfolded (none of which is anything but outrage- & what-the-hell-worthy!). But one explanation was that it’s just a reminder of their regular telecommuting policy that requires parents who are working from home to have childcare. My employer actually has that exact same policy; they just haven’t taken the cruel step to remind us of it during a bleeping pandemic, when already stressed-to-the-max parents have no alternative. The other explanation I’ve seen is that the story is misunderstood. That this policy applies only to staff…and only to staff who cannot do their jobs remotely. No matter how many explanations FSU offers, outrage and condemnation remain the lasting impression of this news. And that’s no surprise, and in fact, deserved. But here’s the thing. Now, while we can all agree that nobody can get safe childcare right now and that this announcement couldn’t have been handled or timed worse….what I don’t see anyone talking about is how do we expect higher ed employers to handle this as the pandemic continues unabated, long-term? Before you think I have any answer: I don’t. And neither does anyone else. In fact, a viral New York Times story from yesterday did a good job of summing up the issue: In the Covid economy, you can have a job or be a parent. Pick one. Parents like me can advocate. And we should, and loudly. And often. Especially those of us with sufficient career capital to push back on behalf of younger and less experienced peers and colleagues. And employers can continue to operate with grace and patience and tolerance. But for how long do we expect them to do that, as higher eds hemorrhage money and incur increasing costs? My employer has from the beginning made all

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The Best Laid Plans

One parent shares her struggles with planning for fall 2020 amidst COVID-19, as she has to commit to a proposed on-campus schedule, but has kids.

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